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Banana and plantain are among the world's major food crops, and considered as the poor man's fruit crop in tropical and subtropical countries. The world's total banana and plantain production ranks fifth after cereals, and there is still a lot of scope for yield improvement.

This book contains the results obtained during FAO/IAEA Coordinated Research Project (CRP) entitled "Cellular biology and biotechnology including mutation techniques for creation of new useful banana genotypes". In 1996 the Belgium Administration for Development Cooperation (BADC), now known as Directorate-General for Development Cooperation agreed to fund this CRP. Besides CRP results, it contains several review papers, with the aim of providing state of the art information on a number of biotechnological tools for adoption by breeders and molecular biologists to obtain Musa varieties with desirable characters in a more rapid and efficient way. These include cryopreservation and somatic embryogenesis to allow maintenance and propagation of Musa germplasm; induced mutagenesis; and somaclonal variation and genetic engineering to generate genetic variation. Screening techniques were developed to obtain disease (Fusarium wilt, black Sigatoka) and nematode resistant plants, while induction of mutations resulted in several improved clones with characteristicts such as reduced height, earliness, large fruit size, and tolerance to black Sigatoka disease. DNA flow cytometry enabled ploidy and the genome size of Musa genotypes to be determined and was also used to monitor cytochimera dissociation and chromosomal stability, while molecular marker technology was integrated into Musa breeding programs in order to allow researchers to access, transfer and combine genes at a rate and with a precision not previously possible. This reference book is a joint publication of FAO/IAEA and International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain (INIBAP) and will be very useful to international researchers engaged in banana genetic improvement for enhanced food security, nutrition, and employment generation.

FAO/IAEA Joint Division
Box 100
Wagramerstrasse 5
A-1400 Vienna

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